Sarah Moon brings painterly fashion and dark fantasy to Fotografiska New York

Octogenarian French photographer and filmmaker Sarah Moon shows 30 years of work at Fotografiska New York – spanning fashion and fantasy, mystery and the macabre, it’s dark, painterly and compelling

Black and white photographic artwork of dogs running on beach: Les chiens de Maria, 2000
Les chiens de Maria, 2000
(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

At 80 years old, the French fashion photographer Sarah Moon is widely considered a living legend. A fashion model in the 1960s, Moon went on to work as a fashion photographer and filmmaker and became renowned for her textural and painterly visual style that imparts her images with an otherworldly atmosphere and intensity. Her work is the subject of ‘Sarah Moon: At the still point’, a comprehensive exhibition at Fotografiska in New York. 

Comprising photographs as well as films and books produced over the last 30 years, the exhibition showcases both Moon’s literary approach to working and her ability create dreamlike visuals, regardless of their destination and medium.

Photographic artwork of figure in red and green: Fashion 01, Issey Miyake, 1995

Fashion 01, Issey Miyake, 1995 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

‘Sarah Moon creates her own timeless, unique visual language,’ says Amanda Hajjar, director of exhibitions at Fotografiska New York.

‘She expands outside straight fashion photography to something more conceptual, but we're still able to recognize it as fashion focused. This unexpectedness keeps us interested and surprised.’

Black and white photographic artwork: 18 juillet, 1989. The Red Thread

18 juillet, 1989. The Red Thread 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

The deep colour tones, abstract shapes and melancholic mood of Moon’s images produce a rich storybook-like quality in her work. The exhibition at Fotografiska New York includes an installation of 46 photographs and six fictional obituaries based around her 2006 film The Red Thread, which draws on the French folk tale Bluebeard (a version of which, by Charles Perrault, was published in 1697). 

The Red Thread, specifically, is very special to Sarah,' says Hajjar. ‘The actual installation of this work revisits the French fairytale of Bluebeard, which tells the story of a woman who is manipulated into a marriage with a murderous husband. Moon creates a visual narrative inclusive of gravestones of the previously murdered wives of Bluebeard.’

Black and white photographic artwork of woman's face: Julie Stouvenel, 1989. The Red Thread

Julie Stouvenel, 1989. The Red Thread 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Seeing these macabre narrative works alongside Moon’s fashion images facilitates a unique dialogue between the two worlds, blurring the lines between fiction and reality, as well as time and space.

‘Even the most glamorous fashion works of her oeuvre express a darkness, treading a line of fantasy and nightmare,’ Hajjar explains. ‘The painterly quality to the photographs is a device to highlight this ethereal mystery of the work. This draws viewers into Moon’s world and you’re visually captivated by the images in front of you.’

Black and white portrait of woman: La Ralentie 2011

La Ralentie, 2011 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Black and white portrait: On l’appelait Val, 1999

On l’appelait Val, 1999 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Black and white photographic artwork: C’est A Hambourg II, 2015

C’est A Hambourg II, 2015 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Black and white image of woman on tight rope: La Funambule 2003

La Funambule, 2003 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Photograph of flower: L’Amaryllis, 2012

L’Amaryllis, 2012 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Black and white photograph: Ombres portées, 1992

Ombres portées, 1992 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)

Black and white photograph: La Neva, 2002

La Neva, 2002 

(Image credit: © Sarah Moon)


‘Sarah Moon: At the still point’, 14 October 2021 – 6 Feb 2022, Fotografiska New York

Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.